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学习新语言的4个原因 – 译学馆
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学习新语言的4个原因

4 reasons to learn a new language | John McWhorter

【启点字幕组】
Light up the word
我现在正在使用的语言
The language I’m speaking right now
即将成为全球通用语了
is on its way to be becoming the world’s universal language,
不管怎样
for better or for worse.
让我们面对现实吧
but face it,
它是网络语言
it’s the language of the internet,
是金融语言
it’s the language of finance,
是空中交通管制语言
it’s the language of air traffic control,
流行音乐语言
of popular music,
外交语言
diplomacy —
英语无处不在
English is everywhere.
现在 讲汉语普通话的人也越来越多
Now, Mandarin Chinese is spoken by more people,
但是 学习英语的中国人
but more Chinese people are learning English
还是比学中文的英语母语者要多
than English speakers are learning Chinese.
最近我听说
Last I heard,
中国现在有24所大学
there are two dozen universities in China right now
使用全英文教学
teaching all in English.
英语正席卷全球
English is taking over.
不仅如此
And in addition to that,
有预言说 到本世纪末
it’s been predicted that at the end of the century
几乎所有现存的语言
almost all of the languages that exist now —
大约有6000种
there are about 6,000 —
都将被弃用
will no longer be spoken.
只留大概几百种
There will only be some hundreds left.
此外
And on top of that,
同声传译不仅成为了可能
it’s at the point where instant translation of live speech
而且会随着时间推移 越来越好
is not only possible, but it gets better every year.
我之所以和大家说这些
The reason I’m reciting those things to you
是因为我们所面临的现实
is because I can tell that we’re getting to the point
让我们不得不开始思考
where a question is going to start being asked,
我们为什么还要学习外语
which is: Why should we learn foreign languages —
当然了 我说的不是非英语母语者学英语
other than if English happens to be foreign to one?
在全世界马上就要用同一种语言来沟通的时候
Why bother to learn another one when it’s getting to the point
干嘛还费心思学别的语言呢
where almost everybody in the world would be able to communicate in one?
我认为有很多原因
I think there are a lot of reasons,
但我首先要说的这个
but I first want to address
你之前很有可能已经听过了
the one that you’re probably most likely to have heard of,
但这可能比你想的更危险
because actually it’s more dangerous than you might think.
那就是
And that is the idea
一种语言会引导你的思维
that a language channels your thoughts,
可以说 不同语言的文字和语法
that the vocabulary and the grammar of different languages
以不同的方式为语言使用者
gives everybody a different kind of acid trip,
再现这个世界
so to speak.
这一观点听来引人入胜
That is a marvelously enticing idea,
但也暗藏隐忧
but it’s kind of fraught.
不是说完全是错的
So it’s not that it’s untrue completely.
举个例子 比如在法语和西班牙语中
So for example, in French and Spanish
桌子一词 是阴性词
the word for table is, for some reason, marked as feminine.
所以用的时候 前面要加上”la”
So, “la table,” “la mesa,” you just have to deal with it.
研究表明
It has been shown
如果你说法语或西班牙语
that if you are a speaker of one of those languages
要是让你想象
and you happen to be asked
桌子讲起话来是什么样
how you would imagine a table talking,
那么不出意外的话
then much more often than could possibly be an accident,
说法语或西班牙语的人
a French or a Spanish speaker
会觉得桌子的声音是嘹亮的女声
says that the table would talk with a high and feminine voice.
所以对法国人和西班牙人而言 桌子是女性
So if you’re French or Spanish, to you, a table is kind of a girl,
这和英语恰恰相反
as opposed to if you are an English speaker.
这样的结果显得很有说服力
It’s hard not to love data like that,
许多人会告诉你 这意味着
and many people will tell you that that means
语言会塑造你的世界观
that there’s a worldview that you have if you speak one of those languages.
但是你也必须留心
But you have to watch out,
如果用仔细具体地来观察我们
because imagine if somebody put us under the microscope,
观察我们这些以英语为母语的人
the us being those of us who speak English natively.
英语的世界观又是怎样的呢
What is the worldview from English?
举个例子 讲英语的人
So for example, let’s take an English speaker.
比如屏幕上的U2主唱波诺
Up on the screen, that is Bono.
他讲英语
He speaks English.
我假设他有一个世界观
I presume he has a worldview.
然后 唐纳德·特朗普
Now, that is Donald Trump.
他自己说
In his way,
他也讲英语
he speaks English as well.
接着 这是卡戴珊
And here is Ms. Kardashian,
她也讲英语
and she is an English speaker, too.
所以现在一共有三个母语是英语的人
So here are three speakers of the English language.
他们三个人的世界观有什么共同之处吗
What worldview do those three people have in common?
他们共同的语言有造就出什么共同的世界观吗
What worldview is shaped through the English language that unites them?
所以这个观点是有问题的
It’s a highly fraught concept.
因此 人们逐渐形成的共识是 语言会影响思维
And so gradual consensus is becoming that language can shape thought,
但是这种影响往往只是晦涩飘忽的心理波动
but it tends to be in rather darling, obscure psychological flutters.
而不是完全改变你对世界的看法
It’s not a matter of giving you a different pair of glasses on the world.
如果是这样的话
Now, if that’s the case,
为什么要学语言呢
then why learn languages?
如果不能改变你的思维方式
If it isn’t going to change the way you think,
那学语言还有什么别的原因呢
what would the other reasons be?
有这些原因
There are some.
原因之一是 如果你想吸收一种文化
One of them is that if you want to imbibe a culture,
想透彻地了解甚至融入一种文化
if you want to drink it in, if you want to become part of it,
语言是否能承载文化
then whether or not the language channels the culture —
虽然还不能确定
and that seems doubtful —
但如果你想吸收一种文化
if you want to imbibe the culture,
你必须一定程度地掌握
you have to control to some degree
承载这种文化的语言
the language that the culture happens to be conducted in.
除此之外 别无他法
There’s no other way.
有个非常有趣的例子
There’s an interesting illustration of this.
我说得可能有点隐晦 但你们可以自己体会
I have to go slightly obscure, but really you should seek it out.
有位加拿大导演叫”丹尼·阿孔”
There’s a movie by the Canadian film director Denys Arcand —
如果你想搜索他的话
read out in English on the page, “Dennis Ar-cand,”
他的名字用英语念是丹尼斯·阿康特
if you want to look him up.
他拍了一部电影叫”蒙特利尔的耶稣”
He did a film called “Jesus of Montreal.”
里面的很多角色
And many of the characters
都是充满活力与激情的法裔加拿大人
are vibrant, funny, passionate, interesting French-Canadian,
是说法语的女人
French-speaking women.
片尾有一个场景
There’s one scene closest to the end,
是片中人物把朋友送到一家英语区医院
where they have to take a friend to an Anglophone hospital.
在医院里她们得说英语
In the hospital, they have to speak English.
她们会说英语 但是英语不是她们的母语
Now, they speak English but it’s not their native language,
所以她们总不愿讲英语
they’d rather not speak English.
她们说得很慢
And they speak it more slowly,
带有口音 说得也不地道
they have accents, they’re not idiomatic.
突然之间你喜欢的角色
Suddenly these characters that you’ve fallen in love with
就变成了一副副空虚的皮囊
become husks of themselves, they’re shadows of themselves.
想要了解一种文化
To go into a culture
但却总是隔着语言的面纱去接触
and to only ever process people through that kind of screen curtain
是永远不会真正了解这种文化
is to never truly get the culture.
因此 如果只有数百种语言得以留存
And so the extent that hundreds of languages will be left,
那么学习这些语言的原因之一就在于
one reason to learn them
语言是一把钥匙 能让我们
is because they are tickets to being able to participate
真正走入其所承载的文化
in the culture of the people who speak them,
事实上 语言就是文化的代码
just by virtue of the fact that it is their code.
这是一个原因
So that’s one reason.
第二个原因
Second reason:
据证明
it’s been shown
如果你会讲两种语言 患痴呆症的概率就会降低
that if you speak two languages, dementia is less likely to set in,
并且更可能做到一心多用
and that you are probably a better multitasker.
这些因素适合放在人的早期发展中
And these are factors that set in early,
所以我们也可以据此判断
and so that ought to give you some sense
该从什么时候开始教孩子外语
of when to give junior or juniorette lessons in another language.
掌握双语有益健康
Bilingualism is healthy.
还有第三个原因
And then, third —
语言充满了乐趣
languages are just an awful lot of fun.
比我们知道的有趣得多
Much more fun than we’re often told.
举个例子 阿拉伯语的”他写过”是 “kataba”
So for example, Arabic: “kataba,” he wrote,
“他/她写”是”yaktubu”
“yaktubu,” he writes, she writes.
祈使句的”写”是”Uktub”
“Uktub,” write, in the imperative.
这些词有什么共同点呢
What do those things have in common?
它们都有着相同之处
All those things have in common
辅音字母都像柱子一样立在中间
the consonants sitting in the middle like pillars.
辅音保持不变
They stay still,
元音围绕辅音发生变化
and the vowels dance around the consonants.
难道你不想让这些音节在舌尖起舞吗
Who wouldn’t want to roll that around in their mouths?
从希伯来语 或者埃塞俄比亚的阿姆哈拉语中
You can get that from Hebrew,
也能体会到这种乐趣
you can get that from Ethiopia’s main language, Amharic.
这很有意思
That’s fun.
不同的语言有着不同的语序
Or languages have different word orders.
学习如何用不同的语序说话
Learning how to speak with different word order
就像你去某些国家要在街道的另一侧开车一样
is like driving on the different side of a street if you go to certain country,
或是把金缕梅放在眼睛周围
or the feeling that you get when you put Witch Hazel around your eyes
那种有点麻的感觉
and you feel the tingle.
语言就能让你有这种感觉
A language can do that to you.
比如
So for example,
“又见戴帽子的猫”
“The Cat in the Hat Comes Back,”
或者其他常见的书
a book that I’m sure we all often return to,
比如”白鲸记”
like “Moby Dick.”
里面会说你知道吗 在哪我找到了他
【英文语序】
One phrase in it is, “Do you know where I found him?
你知道吗 哪里他在 他吃着蛋糕在浴缸里【英文语序】
Do you know where he was? He was eating cake in the tub,
是的 他在【英文语序】
Yes he was!”
如果你学习汉语普通话
Fine. Now, if you learn that in Mandarin Chinese,
你得学会这样说
then you have to master,
你知道 我在哪里 把他找到的吗
“You can know, I did where him find?
他在浴缸里面 狼吞虎咽地吃蛋糕
He was tub inside gorging cake,
没错 狼吞虎咽地嚼
No mistake gorging chewing!”
这样说就好多了
That just feels good.
想象一下 年复一年地这样说话
Imagine being able to do that for years and years at a time.
你们会说柬埔寨语吗
Or, have you ever learned any Cambodian?
我也不会 但如果我会
Me either, but if I did,
就不会像英语那样
I would get to roll around in my mouth not some baker’s dozen of vowels
只用对付那么几个元音
like English has,
30个不同的元音
but a good 30 different vowels
在柬埔寨人的嘴里上下翻飞
scooching and oozing around in the Cambodian mouth
就像蜂箱里的蜜蜂
like bees in a hive.
这就是语言能带给你的感受
That is what a language can get you.
更重要的是
And more to the point,
当前 自学语言比任何时代都要容易
we live in an era when it’s never been easier to teach yourself another language.
以前的话你得去教室上课
It used to be that you had to go to a classroom,
还得指望有个辛勤的老师
and there would be some diligent teacher —
极其优秀的老师
some genius teacher in there —
但老师只在特定的时间讲课
but that person was only in there at certain times
你必须按时去上课
and you had to go then,
上课的时间有限
and then was not most times.
你得去得了课堂
You had to go to class.
如果没有这些条件的话 你可以听录音
If you didn’t have that, you had something called a record.
我曾经被那个磕到了牙齿
I cut my teeth on those.
录音里的资料是有限的
There was only so much data on a record,
还有磁带
or a cassette,
或者CD这种老古董 也是一样
or even that antique object known as a CD.
此外 你还有一些看不懂的书
Other than that you had books that didn’t work,
以前就是这么学语言的
that’s just the way it was.
但现在 你可以躺着
Today you can lay down —
躺在客厅的地板上
lie on your living room floor,
一边喝着波本酒
sipping bourbon,
一边用如师通 【语言学习软件】
and teach yourself any language that you want to
学习任何一种你想学的语言
with wonderful sets such as Rosetta Stone.
我强烈推荐知名度稍低的Glossika软件
I highly recommend the lesser known Glossika as well.
你随时可以这样学习语言
You can do it any time,
因此你可以练习更多并且掌握得更好
therefore you can do it more and better.
早上一起床你就能用各种语言提提神
You can give yourself your morning pleasures in various languages.
每天早上我都看不同语言的呆伯特【漫画】
I take some “Dilbert” in various languages every single morning;
这样能提升你的语言技能
it can increase your skills.
这些事20年前绝对做不到
Couldn’t have done it 20 years ago
那时候
when the idea of having any language you wanted
凭借口袋里的手机
in your pocket,
就能学任何外语的想法
coming from your phone,
听起来完全是天方夜谭
would have sounded like science fiction to very sophisticated people.
所以 我强烈推荐大家
So I highly recommend
学习除英语以外的别的语言
that you teach yourself languages other than the one that I’m speaking,
因为现在就是学外语的最佳时刻
because there’s never been a better time to do it.
学外语充满了乐趣
It’s an awful lot of fun.
这不会影响你的世界观 让你黑白颠倒
It won’t change your mind,
只会充实你的身心 让你神魂颠倒
but it will most certainly blow your mind.
谢谢
Thank you very much.

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